Learn Korean: 아니라 VS 말고


I would like to put 아니라 and 말고 in the same note because they both have the power to negate a word. 아니라 comes from the verb 아니다 (to not be) and 말고 from the verb ending – 말다 (do not do something). They are somewhat similar but as to how they are different is what we are going to figure out in this note.

We use 말고 B when you prefer B to A- you reject A while proposing B. For instance, you ask someone to hand you the book on the table by merely pointing it. However, there is also a newspaper next to the book and he/she thought you are referring to it. In this case, you can say 신문 말고  ().

We use 아니라 B to correct someone’s mistake like when someone mistakes a drama for a movie or when someone mistakes a Korean for a Chinese.  In that case, you say 그게 드라마가 아니라 영화야 or 세진이가 중국인이 아니라 한국인이야 아니라 is interchangeable with 아니고.

아니라 is preceded by a noun and that includes gerunds as in 신문이 아니라 or 무시하는  아니라. Then, what follows it is either a combination of a noun and a verb or just a verb as in 신문 아니라 잡지를 읽었어요 or 무시하는  아니라 진짜 몰랐어요. Take note of the particles / along with 아니라.


말고 on the other hand can be preceded by both noun and verb as in  말고 and 어디 가지 말고. As you can see, nothing gets in between the noun and 말고 but a single space. As for verb, - is added to the stem. Similarly, they are followed by a either a noun or a verb or a combination of both as in  말고  and 어디 가지 말고 여기 있어.